Otaku USA Magazine
Highschool of the Dead vol. 1

Takashi Komuro is cutting class. Usually students who cut class might worry about being caught, but that worry pales in comparison to what Takashi ends up going through.

He wanders up on the roof to mourn unrequited love, because Rei, the girl he likes, is dating another guy. He probably thinks his life really sucks right then.  However, he then finds himself a witness to murder.

Oh, wait, did I say murder? I meant zombie invasion.

Yes, zombies murdering people, which makes more zombies. After seeing this, Takashi runs back into the school, but instead of warning everyone or calling the police, he grabs Rei to get her out of there and hopefully save her. He does tell one other person what he’s seen, though mostly he’s being pretty useless in that department. (Yes, it’s kind of like those horror movies where you want to yell at the characters.) Rei’s the one who thinks of calling the police. However, upon dialing, all they get is a recording.  

The zombies continue to get worse. They keep chomping down on living people and—like magic!—that makes more zombies. Takashi puts himself into hero mode, and some other students also adopt take-charge attitudes. They team up to fight the zombies, discovering that the only way to kill them is to smash their heads. So, in other words, there’s a fair amount of head smashing in this volume. This, coupled with other gore (and probably the well-endowed women and gratuitous panty shots) earn Highschool of the Dead a Mature rating. However, it’s not as extreme as one might expect.  It was more head smashing than I wanted to see, but not so much that it got to me.

Though it’s titled Highschool of the Dead, clearly the zombies are attacking more than just the school. Before long it appears to be a worldwide phenomenon, despite the fact that everything was normal when people woke up that morning. All of this happened very fast and no one seems to be prepared for it. (Grabbing random weapons and smashing heads does not necessarily mean prepared.)

There’s no point in trying to make this manga sound highbrow, because it’s not. It’s violence and sex (with considerably more violence). However, I have to say it’s better than it could have been. I mean, it’s a zombie book. If there are sophisticated books on zombies out there, I haven’t come across them. It does a decent job at what it aims to do, which is to make a fast-paced story about fighting the living dead. Some parts are predictable (like Takashi having to suddenly be the hero because of the girl), but I honestly don’t know how all of this will end, which is a good thing. It has been popular enough to warrant an anime spinoff, so while Highschool of the Dead isn’t going to wow you with sophistication, it must be doing something right.

Publisher: Yen Press
Story: Daisuke Sato
Art: Shouji Sato

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